Police Celebrate Seized Online Gambling Funds

by Brian McGraw on June 13, 2011 · 11 comments

in Nanny State, Personal Liberty

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Roughly one week ago, an article appeared in The Odenton Patch covering an Anne Arundel County Police Department press conference where our benevolent ruling class is seen gleefully celebrating their “reward” in assisting a federal investigation which seized over $30 million dollars in internet gambling funds. They even ordered a giant Tiger Woods sized check for a photo-op. Note that though the operation was named “Operation Texas Hold’em,” it is unrelated to the recent crackdown on online poker sites such as Full Tilt and Poker Stars.

The gist of the story is that the police force set up their own online payment processor and processed payments for internet gambling sites as if they were a real legitimate business. The federal government used this evidence to seize funds belonging to those companies. If you visit the website of their now defunct business, they attempt to direct your outrage to the gambling sites:

NOTICE

Linwood Payment Solutions is a Department of Homeland Security Undercover Business set up to identify and prosecute companies accepting and paying out funds for U.S. customers who gamble online illegally.

If you have questions regarding funds withdrawn from your bank account for gambling purposes contact the online gambling company you provided your banking information to.

They begin by seizing roughly $30 million in funds, a large majority of which belonged to American citizens engaged in a private activity within the confines of their home. Then they shut the website down and encouraged Americans to contact the gambling website to see if they can get their funds back. These are the same businesses that were just shut down and lost access to their website, capital, payment processing services, and are dealing with serious criminal charges. There is absolutely no chance that they will be able to pay back the money that belonged to American citizens, some of which is now in the hands of the Anne Arundel County Police Department:

Police said they would use the money for equipment to assist with undercover investigations, plus new vehicles and weapons.

Apologies to the Americans who won’t be receiving the money they deposited via a fake business the government set up, but fear not as they’re going to be buying lots of shiny new police toys with your money. This is yet another way in which horrid police activity fuels itself (much more about that here). The police received monetary rewards for disrupting the lives of innocent people and are using that money to buy fancy new equipment which they will use to harass even more private American citizens engaged in activities that some bureaucrat finds distasteful.

The original article showed up on a popular online poker web forum and individuals from across the world began expressing their disapproval in the comments section. As one online commentator aptly described the situation: “This is disgusting. Their smug faces make me wanna puke.” Another wrote: “So they have taken money that belongs to American citizens. That’s stealing! We should inform the police, oh wait…” The large number of comments prompted the author to write a follow up article, published yesterday. Here is the meat:

To online gamblers and poker players in particular, the seizure and distribution of the funds was the equivalent of a theft.

“What upset me so much was the seizure of those funds and it not being facilitated to get the funds back to the players,” said Bill Sutton, a restaurant manager from Edgewater, who lost $1,000 when a poker site was shut down by the federal government.

Sutton’s money was tied up with Full Tilt Poker, a top online poker site that was shut down in a federal action separate from the one involving Anne Arundel County. But he said he was angered that law enforcement officials appeared to have no plans to work with site operators to return funds to players, who were not the target of the investigation.

“I understand it was a big score for them, and it was a lot of work for them to do it,” he said. “The thing that upset me the most was that they are taking funds from players when it has not been deemed illegal.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore said it had no plans to give money back.

“Illegal gambling proceeds are forfeited to the government,” spokeswoman Vickie E. LeDuc said. “Anyone who believes that an Internet gambling business owes them money can try to collect from the Internet gambling business. The government is not going to give the money to gamblers.”

Legal experts said the distribution of seized money is not unprecedented, but that it’s rare for a local department to hold a press conference and photo op.

Oops, just kidding. There will be no apologies from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or really, anyone in a position to actually stop this type of noxious behavior.

The decision to go after gambling operations has had devastating consequences. Earlier this year the state of Virginia agreed to pay a family $2 million after an unarmed man was killed during a investigation into money being wagered on sports.

mark kruse June 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

wow the police took hard working amercains money. They must feel so good to seal from their fellow americans

JdL June 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

What form of communication will be required for government thugs to understand that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated?

Johnny Clamboat June 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm

@JdL… Tar & Feathers can be construed as a form of communication.

Flahute June 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Keep in mind that gambling on the Internet is illegal in the United States. Any moneys earned on the poker sites illegal gambling proceeds … and those proceeds are always subject to forfeiture, just as they would be if the cops busted a bookie or mini-casino working out of the back room of a deli in Brooklyn.

If you weren’t breaking the law to begin with, you wouldn’t have to worry about having your assets seized.

Johnny Clamboat June 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

“Keep in mind that gambling on the Internet is illegal in the United States. ”

That calls for a citation or an ackn0wledgement that you don’t have one.

“If you weren’t breaking the law to begin with, you wouldn’t have to worry about having your assets seized.”

I often hear that from State fellators but it’s not true in the least. The tip of the iceberg can be found from one of the links that Brian posted in the article: http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/26/the-forfeiture-racket

Boich347 June 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Flahute, you’re simply incorrect about the state of the law. Even the law which supposedly outlawed online poker didn’t make it illegal for players to gamble: it only made it illegal for the poker sites to host games (and it’s not even clear it did that much). In Washington it’s actually illegal to play online poker, but in Maryland it’s not at all illegal to play poker on the internet

Simon Hunter June 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Sorry but is not illegal to play poker on the Internet. Poker is a skill game, so no it is not illegal gambling proceeds. I don’t know how many times we have to go over this. That money was taken from innocent civilians plain and simple.

JLA June 18, 2011 at 11:35 am

@Flahute

If they were breaking the law then please explain why the online gamblers were NEVER CHARGED WITH A CRIME. I seem to remember a legal concept called “innocent until proven guilty” somewhere. Until they are actually proven guilty of a crime in a court of law, they are innocent and thus, deserve their money back.

tagnostic June 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Flahute: Everything you posted is absolutely wrong, but thanks for chiming in.

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